[Avodah] Fwd (JID): "Who Says There Are No Coincidences?"

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Fri Mar 8 12:28:15 PST 2013

On Wed, Mar 06, 2013 at 09:42:28PM +0000, Kenneth Miller wrote:
: Like R' Micha Berger seems to be saying, I would say that "There are no
: coincidences" is pretty much identical to "Universal Hashgachah Peratis".

: Under UHP, I cannot stub my toe without it having been divinely
: decreed. To me, that sounds identical to discovering that I share the
: same birthday with someone -- I would not have found out the fact unless
: there was a reason for me to have found it out. It was not happenstance;
: it was not a coincidence.

I tried to introduce a dicussion between total HP for every event in
every person's life, and total HP for every event, even when no people
would be impacted.

The difference is only philosophical, since anything that actually impacts
any of our lives would be attributed to HP either way.

: Granted that UHP is not unanimously subscribed to, as R' Micha reminded
: us....

But total HP in human lives is the majority opinion among the rishonim,
such that even the Rambam has to redefine "human" in order to assert
otherwise without explicitly contradicting Chazal. Not that he says they
made the distinction between homosapiens who were more or less human;
just that this distinction implies his position in their words.

On Thu, Mar 07, 2013 at 08:26:07PM -0600, Lisa Liel wrote:
> On 3/7/2013 4:51 PM, Micha Berger wrote:
>> Personally, I don't believe in them because of Chaos Theory, as often
>> illustrated by "The Butterfly Effect". If there were anything whose
>> final outcome wasn't influenced by HQBH, how could there be anything
>> whose final outcome was? All events interact and interplay.

> This differs on micro and macro levels.  For example, take a closed jar  
> filled with air.  The location of any particular molecule or atom at any  
> given time isn't easy to calculate, and you actually *can't* calculate  
> both the position and velocity of a particle.  But the aggregate,  
> contained in that jar, is easily determined.

The law of large numbers is the idea that if the probability of flipping
a coin and getting heads is .5, then if you flip enough fair coins,
you are likely to get numbers closer to 1/2 of them coming up heads.

That only works for the small minority of aggregates where there are
no feedback loops, so that each coin toss is independent.

BTW, from a Quantum Mechanical point of view, do events that don't
impact human lives ever leave the world of statistics anyway? Do the
molecules in your gas even have a specific location before observation?
Maybe even Schroedinger's Cat is in a superposition of states because
every wave collapse involves HP, and HP depends on people being impacted?
I didn't intend this when I first wrote (I wrote about Chaos Theory,
not QM), but it's another wrinkle anyway.

On Thu, Mar 07, 2013 at 06:01:16PM -0500, Rich, Joel wrote in reply
to the same paragraph:
: Perhaps because HKB"H could "accept" a result gotten to in different
: ways. A simple example might be a bet between 2 people on the roll of the
: dice. If the roll is 7 or less a wins, 8 or more B wins. Hkb"h wants
: A to win, he only "interferes that the roll not be 8 or more, but the
: roll could be 5 or 6 etc. Say they played twice and both times a 5 was
: rolled - that would be "coincidence"?

Similarly this possibility is pretty minimal. A person remembers getting
a six, it makes it that more likely to start thinking "I'm on a roll with
sixes" or whatnot.

When you get involved with people, or even with ecologies or weather
systems, everything interacts. That's why the system has an attractor
state -- a state (or a path through a range of states) that is not only
an equalibrium, but the system tends to pull itself back to that 
equilibrium. You have to pull the planet's weather system pretty far
out of wack before it will refuse to bounce back. Similarly human health,
or a society's stability.

But it also allows for tiny changes in starting state to bounce around the
feedback loop making changes in that path in totally unpredictable ways.


Micha Berger             Good decisions come from experience;
micha at aishdas.org        Experience comes from bad decisions.
http://www.aishdas.org                - Djoha, from a Sepharadi fable
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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